The 'Case Analysis: Pradeep Kishen v. Union of India' revolves around environmental conservation, particularly the protection of forests and wildlife.

The 'Case Analysis: Pradeep Kishen v. Union of India' revolves around environmental conservation, particularly the protection of forests and wildlife.

Case Title: Pradeep Kishen v. Union of India

Citation: (1996) 8 SCC 599

Court: Supreme Court of India

Bench: B. L. Hansaria and S. C. Sen, JJ.

Date of Judgment: 10/05/1996


Today, human beings are nevertheless reliant on essential biological processes and systems to ensure their sustenance, wellness, health, and pleasure of life. All of mankind’s nourishment, medications, and industrial products are derived from naturally occurring and cultivated aspects of the ecosystem. Natural resources are also used for tourism and leisure purposes, and they support the ecosystems that offer us a variety of services.

The concept of ‘environmental sensitivity’ emerged when mankind acknowledged that the environment is not dependent on him but rather he is dependent on the environment. We are all slaves of ecosystems therefore humans must safeguard Mother Nature from harm to provide an ecologically sound environment for generations to come. In the last few years, legal systems have served as the protectors of the environment, protecting the environment from the assault of growth that is at odds with the ideal of sustainable development. Here is one of the important Supreme Court decisions that aided in the advancement of the cause of fostering environmental consciousness.

In Pradeep Kishen v. Union of India (1996) 8 SCC 599, the Supreme Court evaluated environmental & cultural concerns. This case demonstrated the significance of balancing progress with the preservation of both environmental and cultural heritage. The decision set an important example for other cases, highlighting the significance of the judiciary in ensuring the suitable and careful management of development projects impacting natural resources and cultural heritage. Our country’s laws and courts are equally cognizant of the vital role of wildlife. The sustainability of wildlife is increasingly affected as forest cover has decreased. However, we should do everything we can to protect wildlife.

Facts of the Case

  1. The petitioner, who was an environmentalist, filed a writ petition under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution. He questioned the legality as well as the constitutional validity of a ruling dated 28/3/1995 passed by the government of M. P., Department of Forest, allowing villagers residing around the perimeters of sanctuary and National Parks to gather tendu leaves to preserve their customary rights.
  2. The Supreme Court ordered the Madhya Pradesh government to take immediate action to restrict peasant and tribal access to national parks and sanctuaries.
  3. It was said by the petitioner that the State Government’s action was in violation of the provisions associated with the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, and also the fundamental liberties of the petitioner assured by Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution, and was even contrary to the Directive Principle stated in Article 48A and the
    Fundamental Duty
    placed on every citizen under clause (g) of Article 51A of the Indian Constitution.
  4. The Supreme Court upheld the ruling but urged the authorities to consider the fact that just bona fide villagers could pick tender leaves and take any appropriate actions to safeguard forest degradation.

Legal Provisions

The Wildlife Protection, Act 1972

  • Section 26A: The state Government must establish the boundaries of a sanctuary within a reserve forest or territorial waters deemed ecologically significant for wildlife protection or development.
  • Section 35: The State Government may designate an area as a National Park, whether or not it is under a sanctuary, to protect, spread, or enhance wildlife or its ecosystem.
  • Section 27: Talks about the restriction to enter the premises of the sanctuary. This section of the mentioned Act recognises several categories to permit or restrict them from entering the sanctuary.
  • Section 33: The authority to administer sanctuaries was discussed in this section, authorising the Chief Wild Life Warden to be able to regulate, manage, and sustain all sanctuaries.

The Constitution of India:

  • Article 32: This Article ensures constitutional redress, allowing citizens to petition the Supreme Court for the execution of their fundamental rights, a fundamental right crucial for individual liberty
  • Article 14: This Article of the Indian constitution, forbids any sort of discrimination based on caste, gender, religion or place of birth. It promotes equality and equal protection before the law.
  • Article 21: This particular Article provides the right to life and discourages any snatching of personal liberty and freedom except the one vested by the law and rules.
  • Article 48A: This Article constitutes the explanation that the Indian Constitution, amended by the 42nd amendment in 1976, mandates environmental conservation and development, incorporating directive principles of state policy within Article 48A, emphasizing the preservation and enhancement of the environment
  • Article 51A: It addresses the Fundamental Duties and includes Eleven fundamental duties that citizens are supposed to adhere to. It is also a part of DPSP and was added to the Indian constitution by the 42nd amendment and amended by the 86th amendment of the Indian constitution.

Issue Raised

  1. Whether it is permissible to exploit an area designated as a Sanctuary and National Park under Sections 18 and 25, respectively, of the Wild Life (Protection) Act of 1972 for the gathering of minor forest produce in breach of the restrictions imposed by the said Act?
  2. Whether the State Government possess the authority to utilize minor forest produce from reserves and National Parks designated for the preservation and protection of ecology, flora, fauna, and geomorphological ecological or zoological significance?

Arguments from Both the Sides


  • The Petitioner uncovered the statistic that National Parks and Sanctuaries in Madhya Pradesh, India, constituted 12.4 per cent of the entire forest territory, which was declining day by day due to overgrazing, excessive tree falling, and blazes in the forests.
  • The petitioner claimed that the contested ruling was issued due to the influence of the business sector. Second, he claimed that the order overlooked the necessity to safeguard flora, animals, and wildlife.
  • The petitioner stated that the removal of organic materials was going to damage soil structure and that there was genuine concern about forest fires.
  • The Petitioner submitted an additional affidavit in which he stressed that he was not challenging the right of tribal inhabiting close to National Parks and Sanctuaries to harvest minor products for their own legally genuine use, rather than the commercial exploitation of such fruit by the contractor. He claimed this was contrary to the Act’s purpose and spirit.


  • The respondents pointed out that because the petitioner’s fundamental liberties had not been harmed, the petition could not be maintained under Article 32 of the Constitution.
  • According to the respondents, the petitioner lacked locus standi to contest the impugned order under Articles 14, 21, 48A, and even 51A(g) of the Indian Constitution.
  • They also argued that the traditional rights of villagers who reside within and around the perimeters of National Parks and Sanctuaries for which the last notice under Sections 26A and 35 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 was not issued cannot be challenged until the equivalent has been acquired, the appropriate compensation has been given, and the inhabitants were being rehabilitated.
  • Furthermore, they argued that under the Act, the State government possesses the power to utilize minor forest output.
  • Concerning the petitioner’s worry about burning the tender leaves, the respondents indicated that the tradition has been fully discontinued. In short, the respondent’s appeal was about safeguarding forest resources from fire while simultaneously guaranteeing that the ecology and biodiversity of the area were not harmed.
  • Furthermore, the court was informed that a special cell comprised of police and forest authorities, overseen by the Inspector General of Police, had been established to manage the forest region.
  • Three people stated to be tribal interfered during the proceedings, arguing that their conduct did not affect biodiversity or cause fires. They claim that collecting money from tendu leaf was barely sufficient to meet their basic needs and that commercial abuse by contractors was minimal. He claimed this was contrary to the Act’s purpose and spirit.
  • They further claimed that they had been gaining this advantage for ages and that denying it would end up resulting in the annihilation of the entire tribe population because they survived solely on tiny forest supplies. They said that the petitioner had completely ignored the rights and advantages of indigenous tribal groups.


The Court highlighted that the purpose of the Act is to primarily safeguard wildlife and birds using the establishment of National Parks and Sanctuaries, as the circumstances may require.

The court drifted over an extended time on the specifics of Sections 18, 21, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, and 33 (24(2) and concluded that before the State Government issuing a final notice under Section 26A or Section 35(1), the prescribed procedure for acquiring rights within land designated as a Sanctuary or National Park must be adhered to.

The Court stated that it wasn’t the petitioner’s argument in this case that the process for acquiring entitlements over or within the land of people who reside nearby of domains laid out to be established as Sanctuaries and National Parks according to Sections 26A and 35 of the Act had been carried out. Because no definitive declaration existed under the abovementioned rules, the State government failed to prevent the arrival of peasants living within and near the Sanctuaries and National Parks, according to a decision dated 28/3/1995. This cannot be accomplished until the final reports required by the aforementioned provisions are issued. As a result, the court ruled that the contested notification was invalid. Therefore, the court ruled that the contested notification did not violate any law.

The Court acknowledged that India’s overall extent of forest is not optimal. As a result, they stated that this nation cannot handle any additional shrinking, and the government’s reluctance to move the villagers/tribal is regrettable.

As a result, while the court didn’t invalidate the 28/3/1995 order, it directed the state’s government to decide on the issue of finalizing the procedures for sending final notifications and afterwards take immediate measures to conclude the method for declaring/notifying the regions as Sanctuaries as well as National Parks according to Sections 26A and 35 of the Act. It directed the State government to resolve the dispute swiftly, demonstrating the perception of pressure anticipated of the state government with matters established by Article 48A of the Constitution while keeping in mind the responsibility established within Article 51 A (g) of the Indian Constitution.


The Supreme Court of India continues to reiterate the importance of environmental conservation. The conclusion underlined the government’s and citizens’ obligation to conserve the environment, with a focus on sustainable development. The ruling stressed the significance of a balanced strategy that assures environmental preservation without endangering development goals. In short, Pradeep Kishen v. Union of India contributes to Indian environmental law by emphasizing the legal duty to preserve the environment and the roles that both the government and citizens in achieving this goal.

This case has cleared, the concept of minimal exploitation of minor forest produce by people who rely on it for sustenance and meeting their daily basic requirements.

Laiba Tahreem

Laiba Tahreem

A final year humanities student of Jamia Hamdard University, New Delhi

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